How do video games affect the human mind?


Lucia Martinez

Is this gaming console to blame for the violence associated with American youth?

After President Trump claimed that the acceptance of video games is the cause for recent mass shootings, psychologists had to fact-check him to set the record straight about the effect video games have on people. 

According to President Trump, video games are now to blame for the recent mass shootings. In order to prevent future shootings, society needs to stop accepting violence, so that the developing youth isn’t influenced by violent tendencies. 

“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society. This includes the gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace,” Trump said from the White House in light of the massacres at Texas and Ohio

This is an example of how ignorant our president is to address things. Instead of trying to figure out the actual cause of mass shootings, he chooses to place the blame on something so superficial without enough evidence to support his claims. In fact, the president of the United States is not the only politician to have the same opinion on video games. As others also have negative thoughts about video games. This is why a majority of society sides with them. Society tends to focus on the bad side of things, instead of observing both sides. 

Sophomore Luis Ruvalcaba at MCHS says that playing video games allows him to use his brain in intellectual matters because he can strategize on acquiring a “dub,” or winning a round of a game.  He continues with, “I consider myself a competitive player in real life and online. This is because I want to be the best one in that case.” 

Professor of Neurology, at George Washington University, Richard E. Cytowic, had this to say about Trump’s statements, “with President Trump even linking gaming to mass shootings, it is worth looking at the positive psychological elements of the medium that may not be readily obvious.” Cytowic also says, “Without a doubt, excessive video gaming is damaging to a user’s well-being. But the medium itself is quite complex and so it can’t be viewed from a singular lens as being uniformly good or bad.” 

The game that he uses to understand the effects of video games is the most recent internet sensation, Fortnite. It has been around for about a year now and has gained popularity throughout recent months, as well as good and bad criticism. 

During my own time, I have indulged in Fortnite with a couple of friends, including Ruvalcaba. I do notice that it makes me feel more social or loud because I am doing call-outs or addressing the potential danger to us in-game. Other times I just talk about my day and I enjoy that because of the scenario I am in. Not only am I having a really good time, farming or gathering materials and getting a couple of eliminations or kills, but I’m simultaneously having a good conversation.  

According to Cytowic, “Studies show that Fortnite strengthens friendships by giving young people a sense of community and an outlet for communication, all of it centered on the game’s mechanics and lore.” 

While playing Fortnite does have a few negative consequences, they aren’t too extreme to inspire someone to commit a massacre, contrary to what our president claims. 

“The downside is that players may spend less time with their actual friends in person.” Cytowic states, “Users miss out on body language and tone, which carry a greater proportion of a message’s meaning than its mere words do.”

Another video game that Cytowic uses for reference is “Celeste,” in which players control a girl named Madeline as she makes her way up a mountain while avoiding various deadly obstacles, according to the website dedicated to Celeste

”Celeste [a platform video game] uses its difficulty as a storytelling device because the game is about a young woman named Madeleine scaling a mountain in order to conquer her anxiety. A player who overcomes each challenge level identifies with Madeleine as she learns to deal in a healthy way with her personal roadblocks.” 

All in all, not all video games have the same genre; game developers create the purpose of a game to suit different types of audiences. Most of the time, they aren’t as harmful as one thinks they are. Ultimately, it all depends on the understanding that gamer has of reality. 

To some, gaming is a nuisance. But to others, it is somewhat of a coping mechanism. But if we start to take that away from these people, then they will have a harder time dealing with their problems. 

For me, the benefits of playing video games are that you are able to relax and not worry about other things,” Ruvalcaba affirms.